John Hitt is one of them.
Now it's one of the largest in America, with more than 58,000.
But it doesn't stop there. The percentage of minority students has doubled. Employment has tripled. The number of National Merit Scholars has quadrupled.
Incoming students' GPAs have soared. Research funding now tops $100 million annually. The school offers more than 200 different degrees.
Quite simply, UCF has gone from being a second-tier commuter school to one that U.S. News & World Report recently ranked as one of the nation's premier "Up-and-Coming" schools, alongside the likes of George Mason and the University of Maryland.
Not bad for a guy who got the gig after the previous president was caught using an escort service.
You may not agree with everything that Hitt, 71, has done. But you'd be hard-pressed to dispute that he's a man with a vision.
More important, it is a vision realized.
This week, the university will commemorate Hitt's 20th anniversary. Yet he came to Orlando as a complete unknown.
He was an interim president at the University of Maine — a former psychology professor who grew up the son of working-class parents in Texas. He was the first in his family to graduate from college.
Upon arriving in Orlando, Hitt said: "The biggest thing that struck me about this school was opportunity."
He wasted no time. Hitt began expanding the school's degree offerings and raising admission standards.
His goal was never to be Harvard — or even the University of Florida. He wanted UCF to be a major research university that both educated and served as an economic engine for Central Florida.
Nothing symbolizes that more than UCF's building boom: growing from 51 buildings on campus to 158.
While Orlando leaders tussled over building a new sports arena, football stadium and arts complex, Hitt built all three.
And he did it his way.
When he couldn't reach a new financial deal with leaders of the Florida Citrus Bowl — where the Knights used to play — Hitt simply picked up his team and took it back to campus.